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Briggs picked to head city -- News Roundup

As Bainbridge Island was looking into Mary Jo Briggs, Mary Jo Briggs was looking into Bainbridge Island. Each, it turns out, liked what they saw.

“My sources were many when I was investigating the community, and it has had a somewhat tumultuous past as far as competing interests and different ideas about the direction Bainbridge should go,” said Briggs, confirmed this week as the city’s next administrator. “What I find refreshing is, I perceive now a universal commitment between the mayor and council to moving the city forward in a positive way.

“That was something that had to be there, just had to be there.”

Briggs earned the top post at City Hall by a 6-0 vote of the council Wednesday, with Debbie Vann absent. Tapped by an executive search firm during a formal hiring process, she was favored by Mayor Darlene Kordonowy after interviews of four finalists earlier this month.

Briggs is expected to join the city on July 6, at a salary yet to be determined.

She comes to Bainbridge Island from the city of Fairview, Ore., a fast-growing Portland suburb, where she has served as administrator for the past three years. She previously worked for the city of Vancouver, Wash., in finance, public works and administration.

Several council members praised her selection.

“I was extremely impressed with the depth and breadth of experience she will bring to the city,” Councilman Bob Scales said. “I really don’t think we could do much better.”

Briggs said she looks forward to living on Bainbridge, which she described as “phenomenally beautiful” and “an active community, where people take an active part in protecting their quality of life.”

Briggs said she has no immediate goals at City Hall, other than to “come in, kiss the desk and be glad to be there.”

– Douglas Crist

WSDOT goes to the Rodeo

Roundup will give way to Rodeo, but state herbicide use will continue along SR-305 for another season.

Steve Roark, operations engineer for the Washington State Department of Transportation, discussed the highway department’s plans for noxious weed control in a presentation before the City Council Wednesday.

About 44 fluid ounces of herbicide diluted with 25 gallons of water will be applied over a three-mile stretch of road, to kill weeds at the base of guardrails, Roark said. The one-time application is expected to occur in the next several weeks.

Responding to comments received at a public meeting at City Hall a week earlier, Roark said the department will use a product called Rodeo instead of its usual herbicide Roundup.

But he deflected calls to eliminate spraying altogether.

“We think we’ve gone a long way toward reducing herbicides already,” he said. “This is the most conservative plan I’m aware of.”

The spraying program is not new, and will not extend beyond a foot-wide strip at the shoulder.

Roark said the state will repave the highway across Bainbridge in 2006, and will attempt to create a “vegetation-free zone” on the shoulders thereafter. In the meantime, the island will be included in a statewide study on alternatives to herbicides.

Roark said such methods as mechanical brush clearing mean higher costs for the department, and put workers at risk from passing vehicles.

Representatives of the As­s­o­ciation of Bainbridge Communities, the Washington Toxics Coalition, and several citizens turned out to urge the state to stop using herbicides along the highway altogether.

Dale Spoor cited a study in Denmark that showed Roundup was infiltrating wells and hurting water supplies. Those sentiments found sympathetic ears on the council, with several noting that city has curbed its own herbicide use for the past year.

“I guess if we were going to vote, we’d vote ‘stop,’” Christine Rolfes said. “But we’re not the Legislature, and I think only the Legislature can tell you that.”

– Douglas Crist

Food drive nets tons

Bainbridge mail carriers delivered mail as usual, but also picked up 15,279 pounds of non-perishable food, hygiene items and cleaning supplies from customers last Saturday.

The 12th annual food drive was organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers, in par­t­nership with the National Rur­al Letter Carriers’ Association.

Helpline House, beneficiary of the drive, reported that this year’s total was nearly a ton more than in 2003, a 13 percent increase.

Dick Slater, manager of the Bainbridge Island post office, said there were 19 carriers on collection routes and two workers who came in on their day off to help. The carriers managed to make their deliveries and pick-ups in one go, but “they were full.”

Hill Moving donated a truck as a collection point at the post office and delivered the goods to Helpline House. Youth groups from Eagle Harbor Congregational Church, Bethany Lutheran Church and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship pitched in to unload and weigh donations.

“It went very well this year for the amount of food, (in terms of) our ability to be organized. We had a good contingent of volunteers at the post office loading dock,” said Clara Manny, manager of volunteer services at Helpline House. “We thank everyone who contributed. The post office and carriers are very helpful and supportive.”

Top contributing routes by pounds donated were Baker Hill and Blakely Avenue 1,017; Rockaway Beach, 982; South Beach and Fort Ward, 924; Madison Northeast and Hidden Cove 919; and Wing Point 854.

Overall, Bainbridge mail routes averaged 804 pounds each.

– Tina Lieu

Magic man at the library

If the weekend doesn’t give you a lift, magician Jonathan Drake might.

Suspending a child on the edge of a chair back or pulling rope through a stomach are Drake specialties. He will perform feats of magic at the Bainbridge Library for children of all ages, in a free show 1:30-2 p.m. this afternoon.

“I like to use effects that are simple, direct, amazing, funny, and appeal to children as well as adults,” Drake said. “I also like to get kids involved in participating in the show.”

The show includes close-up magic with coins, rope, and small objects using sleight of hand; parlor magic with small illusions and audience participation in a small room; formal stage magic with levitation and large illusions; and strolling magic with the magician mingling with the audience.

Port Orchard resident Drake has performed in Puget Sound for more than 15 years, and combines magic with balloon creatures.

“Balloon animals are great for kids and adults,” Drake said. “The kids are entranced as they watch the figure take shape – and the adults are entranced watching the kids.”

The island performance is one of a series of shows at Kitsap Regional Library branches through November.

– Tina Lieu

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